Max Payne 3
starts off strong, but gradually shifts into unpleasantness as it goes on, eventually wallowing in despair by the end. With some modification, a sequel to this could be good, but as it stands now, Max Payne 3
is a different creature from it predecessors that doesn't quite hit the mark.
Easily the biggest issue is the drastic shift in tone from the first two games: it's just so fucking dark
. Cardboard cutouts get killed left and right with little time for characterization, while Max himself spends a good portion of the game drinking and talking about what a piece of shit he is. This is not helped by the setting change; the tone of the previous games was moody but not relentlessly so, while this game seems determined to constantly throw the worst São Paulo has to offer at us. Eventually, it just becomes a nonstop cavalcade of grimness, and it's hard to root for anybody. Leaving the darkness aside, cutscenes are lengthy, often unskippable, and punctuated with annoying effects: colors randomly breaking apart like a bad TV screen, words characters have just said hanging in the air, and sudden split screens. This is possibly an attempt to emulate the comic panels of the originals with none of the style.
The gameplay is... a little off. The actual shooting and flying through the air work fine, although the game is incredibly stingy with bullet time, for some reason: simply going into slow motion for an easy headshot is rarely an option. However, the cover mechanic isn't as good. This game shows that a cover system works best with regenerating health of some kind; if you get caught behind cover with only a sliver of health left and no way to get it back, you might as well reload your game — from a checkpoint, as there is no quicksave option. Painkillers are also rare, which means having low health is pretty common. The Euphoria system can actually be a detriment at times, making it hard to tell if a bad guy has died or just fallen over. There are flashes around the crosshairs to show if you kill someone, but they're easy to miss.
There is some fun to be had here, if you're willing to sit through a grim slog to get to it. Some of the levels are pretty well-designed and have some entertaining moments. However, if you dislike excessive thematic darkness, you should give this game a pass.